Blinis

These Russian pancakes are traditionally served with a variety of fillings for individual spreading. The fillings include sour cream, smoked cod’s roe, pickled herring, mashed sardines, or hard-boiled eggs and black caviar. Blinis were an essential part of the Maslenitsa festival before seven weeks of strict fasting began, in much the same way as pancakes were eaten in England before the start of Lent. But now blinis are eaten throughout the year in Russia.

J oz. dried yeast

6 tablespoons lukewarm water

3 oz. buckwheat flour

8 oz. flour

15 fl. oz. lukewarm milk

3 eggs, separated

2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

8 oz. butter,melted and cooled

Sprinkle the yeast on to the lukewarm water in a small bowl. Leave the mixture to stand for 2 to 3 minutes, then stir it to dissolve the yeast completely. Leave the bowl in a warm place for 20 minutes, or until the mixture has almost doubled in bulk.

Put 2 ounces of buckwheat flour and all the flour into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the lukewarm milk and the yeast mixture. Beat the ingredients vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture is smooth. Cover the bowl with a cloth and set aside in a warm, draught-free place for about 2 hours, or until the mixture doubles in bulk.

Stir the batter and beat in the remaining buckwheat flour. Gradually beat in the egg yolks, salt, sugar and 2 tablespoons of the melted butter. Leave in a warm, draught-free place for about 1 hour.

In another large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites with a wire whisk, or rotary beater, until they form stiff peaks.

Lightly fold the egg whites into the batter mixture with a metal spoon. Leave in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to very cool 250°F (Gas Mark 1/2, 130°C).

Heat

1 tablespoon butter in a large frying-pan over high heat. Pour in about

2 tablespoons of the batter for each pan-cake (you will be able to make about

3 at a time, each about

3-inches in diameter). Cook each pancake for

2 to

3 minutes, brush the top with butter, then turn it over with a spatula and cook for another

2 minutes, or until it is golden brown on both sides. Transfer the pancakes from the pan when cooked to an ovenproof dish and keep hot in the oven while cooking the remaining pan-cakes, adding more butter to the pan as required.

Serve the blinis stacked in a pile and wrapped in a napkin to keep them warm.

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